Posts Tagged ‘Prof. Moussa Bongoyok’

FOR A SUBSTANTIAL BUSINESS, IT TAKES SIGNIFICANT MEANS

Malagasy Proverb

“Kojeja bi-löha tsy lanin’akôho boty.” (Ohabolana malagasy)

“Criquet à grosse tête ne peut être mangé par un poussin chétif.” (Proverbe malgache)

“A weak chick cannot eat a bigheaded grasshopper.”  (Malagasy proverb)

Meaning: For a substantial business, it takes significant means

Proverb source: Fulgence FANONY Öhabölaňa betsimisaraka (2011) p.46

Commentary in light of the Bible

Madagascar is a country that deserves more attention than other African countries. It is an extensive reservoir of under-tapped wisdom. The Malagasy have known not to sacrifice their linguistic values ​​on the altar of modernity. Language is the horse of culture. We then understand the cultural richness of the big island, which is manifested, among other things, by the density of its proverbs.

The one that caught our attention here relates to a fact that, at first glance, may seem trivial. It’s no surprise that a chick has trouble eating a grasshopper. As a keen observer, the Malagasy sage only draws a lesson from it for more complex social situations. When you have an important business, whatever the field, you must use substantial resources. It assumes that one did serious evaluation work beforehand to avoid embarking on a futile adventure. But, when the gain is considerable, we will not skimp on financial, material, or human resources.

This proverb is reminiscent of the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl in Matthew 13:44-46:

« 44 The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field. A man discovers it: he hides it again, goes away, overflowing with joy, sells everything he owns, and buys this field.45 This is what the kingdom of heaven still looks like: a merchant is looking for beautiful pearls. 46 When he has found one of great value, he goes and sells everything he has and buys this precious pearl. »

These two proverbs refer to the same reality. In both cases, a person finds an asset of great value beyond his assets. She decides to sell all her possessions to acquire what is more precious. The phrase « the kingdom of heaven is like… » introduces these parables and clearly outlines their parameters. We are here in a spiritual context. Faced with eternal life with all its values ​​and blessings, the ephemeral goods of this world are no match. Of course, the purpose of this proverb is not to teach that eternal salvation is linked to the dispossession of material wealth but to stick only to that which is spiritual. It is instead a question of priority, of the ability to overcome the pitfalls on the way to the kingdom of God. Other biblical texts, like Matthew 5:29-30 or 6:33, Rom. 8:18, Phil. 3:7-8 can shed some light on this. It is appropriate to sacrifice goods or privileges when they constitute an obstacle to the glorious riches of the kingdom of heaven.

If the context naturally lends itself to a spiritual interpretation, the principle that emerges from this pericope is also valid in other areas of social life. For example, Africa is being shaken badly now by corporate groups, organizations, and movements that make no secret of their purpose to sow terror or destabilize regions, nations, or a large group of countries. Someone who carefully considers the strike forces of the terrorist groups and the means at their disposal is entitled to wonder whether the national and international communities are investing the necessary ressources. In addition, extreme poverty rages on the African continent and fuels insecurity.

No country in the world, however small, is to be neglected; but seeing the more than a hundred billion of euros invested in Ukraine (https://www.statista.com/statistics/1303432/total-bilateral-aid-to-ukraine) compared to what is injected into a country like the Democratic Republic of Congo , or the countries of the Sahel, to name a few, there is reason to be doubtful.

The future of the world will not happen without the African continent. By the year 2100, Africa will be the most populous continent. Its resources are infinitely more significant than what is communicated by geologists or economists. The proof is that no year passes without discovering new deposits of mining, gas, or oil resources on the continent. The Chinese, who have been very active there in recent years, quickly understood this, even if it is not always in the interest of Africa. President Joe Biden’s recent meeting with African Heads of State is a good start. However, a more mature, holistic strategy involving African leaders is needed.

A collegial action will make it possible to realize, for example, that it is vital to carry out strategic activities at the local, national, continental, and international levels and to mobilize resources far more significant than those announced. Indeed, a ready-made solution outside the continent imposed on African leaders with unilateral conditions will never achieve the desired objectives. However, the continent’s human and mineral resources are so crucial that investing today to build stronger and more peaceful nations will generate infinitely more wealth for both nationals and the international community in the medium and long term. Only how many ears hear the advice of Malagasy friends? How many strategists still consider the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Prof. Moussa Bongoyok

HOPE FOR A RIPPED AMERICAN SOCIETY: LESSONS FROM A ZAMBIAN PROVERB

« Cikuni ca utsi koma kufumula » (Chewa proverb / Zambia)

« The firewood that smokes too much just remove it. » (Chewa proverb / Zambia)

« Le bois de chauffage qui fume trop, il suffit de l’enlever. » (Proverbe Chewa/Zambie)

 

 

Morality: « One cannot stay in a room with firewood smoking; all will be inconvenienced. The piece has to be taken out. »  The best way to deal with a problem is to attack its root cause.

Note: This proverb, which we comment on in the following lines, is taken from the collection of a thousand Chewa proverbs by Toon van Kessel, Cf. Toon van Kessel Dzedzere-dzedzere salingana nkugweratu (Lusaka: FENZA Publications, 2015) p. 29.

 

Commentary on the light of the Bible

 

     In recent times, bad news has been coming up on American soil to the rhythm of calamities comparable to a replay of scenes taken straight from the book of Job. No sooner do we perceive a faint glimmer of hope in a national context still haunted by the COVID-19 when awful scenes invite themselves, which bleed the hearts of African American communities already weakened by four centuries of unhealed wounds. The most recent case of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American who died of suffocation during a nightmarish arrest, sent entire crowds of men and women of all races to the streets of major cities in the United States, even the world. Anger is at its peak, and the streets roar. The most pessimistic voices howl. Peaceful demonstrations are legitimate though. They find their legitimacy in the cry of distress of a fringe of society which suffocates under the weight of the machine of racism in its various forms and colors. However, looting, destruction of public property, theft, and various scenes of violence are not justified. Besides, they are condemned, including by the family of the victim. An injustice cannot repair another injustice because, as Henri LACORDAIRE puts it so well, « Injustice calls for injustice; Violence begets violence. » However, beyond the calls for calm and peace from the African American community, sister communities, and the authorities, the crowds are difficult to control. What to do?

The above circumstances justify the use of the following Chewa proverb finds its full meaning: « The firewood that smokes too much just remove it. » Let us first put it in its geographic and social context. The saying refers to a familiar scene in rural Africa where the populations use wood for cooking and heating. Heating a house during the cold season is particularly delicate because fueling the fire in such a context requires art and method. The firewood quality then plays a crucial role because, even when they are dry, some wood types give off an uncomfortable, unbearable, even potentially fatal smoke. In this case, the only solution is to withdraw the piece of wood that could suffocate the occupants of the house, remove it from the hut, and extinguish it. Armed with the principle that emerges from this act, the Chewa people cite this proverb to show members of society the wisdom of attacking the source of the problem or problems that disturb life in society. The importance of dealing with the source of problems reminds us of several cases in the Holy Scriptures. Let us cite two.

The first case that comes to mind is that of Nehemiah, who, in addition to external attacks, was faced with severe internal tensions described in chapter 5 of the book that bears his name. As a wise leader, he quickly understood that internal dissension is the most dangerous threat in a nation. So, he immediately condemned the social injustices that the victims identified. Nevertheless, Nehemiah did not stop there. He immediately set the whole society on the road to reparations. Besides, he set a good example, and his immediate entourage did the same (Neh. 5:10); this created an emulation among the whole population (Neh. 5:13). Peace returned within the community.

The second example is from the New Testament. Chapter 6 of the book of Acts describes a crisis that threatened the young Christian community dangerously: The Hebraic Jews neglected the widows of the Hellenistic Jews in the daily distribution of food. So, there was an injustice that had no place in the assembly. As soon as the apostles learned of what was going on, they acted immediately to put out the fire before it spread: they asked the ecclesial community to choose distributors with excellent moral and spiritual qualities and entrusted them with this responsibility. The positive effect was immediate for the entire community. It led to the restoration of justice, and the church experienced a remarkable growth.

In both cases, people identified the sources of the tensions, took adequate measures, and implemented them without delay. What lessons can we learn from this as we are struggling to find a suitable solution to the current crisis? Let us say it straight away, but without losing sight of the delicacy of a crisis that has persisted since the 17th century: a way out is possible. The presently explosive African American anger is such because many roots causes fuel it. As long as people focus their attention on the symptoms that are easily noticeable and sometimes distorted by malicious people, the community risks sinking into a cycle of violence that is as unpredictable as it is destructive to society as a whole. However, we do not have to go that route. Instead, all the members of the society must take their courage to finally listen attentively to the dying cries of the desperate victims. Such a decision will imply identifying the roots of the current tensions and committing ourselves resolutely to attack the roots of racism and social injustices. All this requires love, peace, justice, and wisdom.  Then, America will emerge from this crisis more robust than ever and would even inspire other nations around the world as many are experiencing similar tensions.

Concretely, prayer is essential before any step because we will need divine wisdom to face better the current situation whose complexity is evident. Then, while maintaining prayer throughout the process, a methodical approach is essential. We modestly propose one in 5 steps:

  1. The foremost leaders of the African American community (recognized as such by the majority of African Americans themselves), beyond socio-political or religious considerations, must meet (even by videoconference) to set up a coordination leadership team.

  2. The coordination team put in place will define a strategy and mechanisms to identify the nature and root causes of each social injustice to which their community is a victim while involving the majority of their brothers and sisters in the collection of reliable data. This phase would benefit from being as strictly internal as possible because no one could describe the depth of African American pain better than the victims themselves.

  3. This team will proceed in the same way for the proposals of concrete solutions, which will make it possible to attack the evil at the root. At this point, it would be wise to start thinking internally but then involve real friends from outside the African American community as they find themselves in all racial groups represented in the United States. This move will strengthen the relevance of the solutions. It will refine the communication style by anticipating the objections of those outside the Afro-American community in order to readjust the arguments accordingly. It will ultimately maximize the chance of adoption of the solutions offered by the majority of society.

  4. The solutions will be presented to the highest competent authorities in the country so that proper decisions can be taken and followed up.

  5. The coordination team and the authorities will then set up, by joint agreement, a monitoring, evaluation, and possible readjustment mechanism so that the measures thus taken are effectively applied today and preserved for future generations. They will also think about strategies for preventing and transforming possible conflicts within the parameters of social justice and non-violence.

In short, we are at a delicate crossroads in history. The path we take will determine the happy or unhappy outcome of future events. Our prayer is that God gives us the wisdom to take the right path of peace and social justice courageously. The United States of America and all the countries have an interest in promoting living together in peace and solidarity.  Acting this way is particularly critical in this context of the pandemic COVID-19 pandemic with uncertain contours and with consequences that are both multidimensional and unpredictable. May God give each of us the wisdom, the courage, and the will to actively contribute to building peace and unity on the foundation of social justice!

Moussa Bongoyok, PhD

Professor of Intercultural Studies and Holistic Development

© Copyright by Moussa Bongoyok, 2020

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